Ethnic Terrorism in Pakistan


Daniel O’Connell, a 19th-century Irish statesman had once said, “bigotry has no head and cannot think; no heart and cannot feel. Her god is a demon, her decalogue is written in the blood of her victims” Old bigotry comes with new concept that is now called as ethno violence. Arson, bombings, threats, assaults, acts of vandalism and even murder have been part of Ethnic violence.

Pakistan was created in the name of religion rather than ethnicity. Its founders believed that Islamic values and identity would overshadow and subsume all differences, including those based on ethnic, linguistic and cultural diversity. But now a days this concept has been changed. Ethnic violence has become the most serious problem in the country, faced with certain economic, social and cultural problems. Cultural autonomy (basic human right) seems to be one of the most unproblematic ways to accommodate culturally diverse groups; it is also one of the most contested types of policies. There are different classes in Pakistan, poor, middle, upper middle and upper class and a silent war is going on among these classes. Usually economic policies have a great impact on ethnic relations, if economic policies remain to stagnation and decline, thus escalating poverty and insecurity, are likely to prejudice ethnic tensions and provide fertile ground for the operation of ethnic entrepreneurs. Deprivation in providing ethnic rights to the citizens of a state changes the mass behaviors coercing them to protest against the injustice, such as economic or social prejudices. Some time they want their culture and traditions to overthrow regimes to win autonomy and rights etc. When they fail, they engage themselves in violent acts to achieve their goals because their minds make up arguments that violence and terror are the only mechanisms through which they can attain their rights. If strategies continuously increase economic inequalities especially with ethnic divisions, they marginalize certain groups and exacerbate ethnic discrimination and tensions.

Ethnicity conflict appeared in Pakistan after war in 1971, in Dhaka, the Bangali youth created an army called the Mukti Bahini, although Bangladeshi believed that freedom was given by Quaid-e-Azam in 1947. They would have known that India was never willing to give them freedom. Kashmir’s example was cited for them. It was Indian strategy to create Bangladesh by dividing Pakistan using its force as well as motivating Bangali youths and creating ethnic divisions among the Pakistanis.

Pakistan is an auricular country and feudalism seems as the whipping boy of Pakistan’s intelligentsia. Since 1947, feudal families have dominated the political, social, economic and parliamentary system, their politics remained spirited and ruthless. They enjoy their political, economic and social power through violence over their disciples. There is no equal education system in Pakistan. Discriminations in a system certainly give birth to ethnic terrorism. Pakistan is exercising different classes, the destitute students go to madrassas, lower middle class students go to vernacular-medium and ordinary English schools, and upper middle and upper class have opportunity to go to classic English medium schools and cadet colleges. These classes represent the socio-economic differences. Due to financial problems people get admission to their children into Danni Madrasses. There seems to be a large number of youngsters belonging to poor socio-economic backgrounds who are extremely radical and religious as these people receive education from madrasses. Madrasses create blind abhorrence for their opponents. According to a survey the number of madrasas in Pakistan has gone up from 868 in 1975 to over 8,000 in year 2000. At present, there are 2,512 registered madrasas in Punjab alone with 218,939 students, 15 to 20 per cent of whom are girls. Those students who get education from madress lack behind in all the competitive fields of life. Their brain is stack towards Shia-Sunni fight and they are misplaced in the society. They cannot gain full command on English and may be unable to receive services or may receive inadequate services because of the communication deficit while those people who get science and technical education receive good jobs and luxury life and a big contention starts between these groups. Charles Kennedy points out that, in Pakistan, reserved posts in the public sector, civil service and education have lingered and expanded beyond their original purpose and have actually exacerbated ethnic conflict in the country. Moreover, instead of playing down the society’s beliefs in innate ethnic differences, such reserved posts, seem to provide statutory confirmation of profound differences between the peoples of Pakistan. Ethnic terrorism receives contribution from the people of different Linguistic sources are co-related with the ethnicity violence. Sindhi and Punjabi speaking were fighting against each other since 1970s and their confrontation is still continued along with the emergence of MQM. Urdu speaking believe that they have no respect and identity in Pakistan while Punjabi dominate on them. After 54 years we Pakistanis are still unable to collectively agree upon who we are as a nation, we please about to be called as Punjabis, Sindhis, Baloch, Pathan or Mohajirs and not as Pakistanis. Pakistan government needs to take some adequate measures to overcome this problem taking it as a national security issue. Primary education should be for all children and system should be same, correct policies and will of implementation is the only way to fight against terrorism menace, the government must initiate dialogue with ethnic, political groups and youth to redress their genuine complaints, so-called madrase activities should be kept under observation and violent sectarian groups should be banned.

Writer works for Islamabad Policy Research Institute.